Escudo de Castilla y León

Artistic style

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My style as a heraldic artist could be drawn with three terms: clear, symbolic and methodic.

  • It is clear because my work searches pieces which transmit energy and vital force to the owner and its relatives. I think that a coat of arms should be a source of light and joy and an expression of freedom. That's why in my heraldic creative process I do prefer to get inspiration in early stages of the heraldic history and protray that freshness to the present.
  • It is symbolic because coats of arms must be a representation of its bearer, his/her ideals, goals, motivations, history and anything he/she might want to display. Thus, the creation of a coat of arms should encompass all the signifieds brought by the future owner together with its signifiers, the blazon heraldic rules and the art contributed by the heraldic artist.
  • It is methodical because heraldic art is founded on a science, the so called «science of heraldry». This systematic knowledge has its principles, its composition rules and its own formal language all of those the true foundations of my artistic methodology. The method must not be considered disincentive to creativity, but a fair support and a guarantee of the professional work.

This brief description of my artistic style is detailed in the following series of articles where there's a broader insight in my methodology, my artistic techniques and my track both artistic and personal.

Separador heráldico
Escudo de Castilla y León

Heraldic creation methodology

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During the writing and illustration of «The book of the coat of arms of the Wolves Sable and the Unicorns Argent» I established the basis of a work procedure, which has now established my own heraldic creation methodology. Aware of the need for a methodology to deliver a constant quality service to my clients I'm improving it with the accumulated experience.

The methodology can be described as a 3-phase 3-activity-per-phase process which includes the return to any previous phase in a cycle of constant refining.

The thorough accomplishment of these nine activities (3 times 3) bring the result expected by the future holder of the heraldic shield.

These three phases are:

  • Conception which includes the activities of, elicitation and ideation, heraldic research and critique as well as the creation of a sketch coat of arms.
  • Plastic execution activities: layout and tincture; ornamentation and accompaniment; lighting and final art.
  • Completion and fulfillment activities: heraldic edition; final review and delivery; documentation and closure of records.
Separador heráldico
Escudo de Castilla y León

Conception, a phase with three activities

Elicitation and ideation:

  • Its objective is to acquire all the signifieds, the ideational components, which must be represented in the blazon as well as the conceptual and symbolic ideation of the shield.
  • Its output must be a candidate representation alongside one or more alternative depictions.
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Heraldic research and critique:

  • Its purpose is to compare the candidate design with the proposed alternatives, first by its heraldic investigation and comparison with other blazons and finally by its esthetic relative estimation.
  • The crop will be the documented decision on the chosen design.

Creation of a sketch of the coat of arms:

  • The aim is the realization a first exhibit of the translation of the blazon into a shield. The activity includes a delineation of the future ornament with at least the motto.
  • The result must be an initial acceptance by the future owner and may be an agreement for a refining cycle going back to any of the previous stages.
Separador heráldico
Escudo de Castilla y León

Plastic execution, a phase with three activities

Layout and tincture:

  • This stage's goal is to draw freehand the ordinaries and charges which will be placed upon the blazon and tincture them in plain colours and metals.
  • The result is the definitive coat of arms in plain tincture.
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Ornamentation and accompaniment:

  • It aims the creation of the ornament and, where appropriate, of their complementary heraldic objects, for example, seal, badget, flag, bookplate, etc., all of them determined by the final composition of the coat of arms.
  • Its result is the shield with its ornament and its additions in plain colours and metals.

Lighting and final art:

  • Its objective is, depending on the cases, lighting or shading of ordinaries, figures, crest, etc., and give the final finish to the heraldic objects.
  • The result is the shield, its ornament and complements finished as plastic work reviewable by the future owner. This could drive to a refining cycle returning to some of the earlier phases.
Separador heráldico
Escudo de Castilla y León

Completion and fulfillment, a phase with three activities

Heraldic edition:

  • Its objective is the definitive edition of the blazon and its explanatory texts illustrated with images of the coat of arms, accompanied by the heraldic objects that complement it and adorned with a specific framework tailored to each registrant.
  • Its outcome is a catalog of delivery of the heraldic work stamped, signed, dated and numbered.

Final review and delivery:

  • Its goal is a last review of the complete work and to perform the latest appropriate corrections.
  • The result is the delivery of the work to its holder, point where the heraldic services end.

Documentation and closure of records:

  • Its goal is to finish the internal documentation of the work and the final archival of both the intermediate material and the final result.
  • The result is a new record, keyed on the numbering of the heraldic catalog, in a documentary and graphic content management file.
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Separador heráldico
Escudo de Castilla y León

Artistic technique in Heraldry

My heraldic art is a mixed of techniques that combine the manual realization with the digital process. The reason is that, for each specific creative activity, I try to choose the technique that best suits the goal I intend to achieve.

Drawing freehand

The natural motives are especially suitable to drawing freehand. I go through this job straight with black ink, without previous pencil schemes, with as long as possible ink traces, without lifting the pen, using 0.1 mm thin feathers, making scrolls automatically, without passing twice through the same point with the same movement. This technique comes from the automatic tracing as referred to in the third stage of the article entitled pictorial evolution and influences.

In figures with an eye I always by it and then follow by the right ear, the hair of the head, left ear, neck, back, tail, circulating at the maximum possible speed in the clockwise direction, skirting the figure to the left front leg, where I stop. Then, I do return to the right ear, down to the nose, mouth, tongue, chin, the lower part of the neck, circulating at the maximum possible speed counterclockwise, bordering the figure until the left front leg, where I stopped in the first round.

This tracing technique has the advantage of generating long lines, which seem to circulate freely, but it has the disadvantage of admitting neither mistakes nor retracings. In case of errors, the suitable choice is to finish the figure, to see the final result and be able to detect possible points of special difficulty towards the end of the tracing and right after to trace the whole figure again in a blank sheet, using the previous one as visual support. The reiterated result is to have to follow this process several times up to reaching a satisfactory level of execution. As a curiosity, I've noticed that the 1st figure often contains errors of ink path, the best is usually the 2nd and in some cases the 3rd, but from the 4th on, although there is no longer errors, the result is often more baroque.

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Technical outlining

For the tracing of some figures, especially geometric, I use classic technical drawing skills. In this way vair, vairy, divisions, geometric ordinaries, bordures, checkys, etc. are calculated and outlined technically.

In some cases figures that are delineated technically are also hand-touched in order to compare techniques and be able to select the most suitable technique for the ongoing coat of arms.

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Tincture of elements

In order to tincture field, ordinaries and charges I always start with plain colours and metals. In fact all my shields always have a version in plain colours. Then I build the volumes by means of lightings and shadows and applying appropriate finishings, by adding and removing hues and texturing surfaces. In some cases I do this process on the whole shield, in other, more laborious way, each field, ordinaries and charge is treated separately. This technique of working on flat base colours for later lighting and texturing follows my previous graphic work on color coated paper, which are described in the first stage of the article entitled pictorial evolution and influences.

In the final stages I try and choose the best of two options as applied to the already tinctured and finished charges:

  • Represent them outlined in sable with its original layout.
  • Let the tincture of the shield's field give them their final delineation.
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Working process

I perform the workflow mainly over sheets size DIN A1, in vertical orientation, 84,1 cm x 59.4 cm, attaching to drawings annotations, metadata, samples of colour, etc. I make and archive these DIN A1 forms sequentially as I go through the steps described in the section entitled heraldic creation methodology.

At the end of the work, all of these DIN A1 forms together, make up what could be called a «making-of» of the coat of arms, that is, the history of their creation process.

Separador heráldico
Escudo de Castilla y León

Pictorial evolution and influences

My artistic evolution can be classified into three 3 major phases, each of them marked by the influence of a particular school. These three stages, in turn, made their own contributions to my current heraldic production:

  • Pop Art: At the beginning of the 1980s, most of my initial work was tuned to the Pop Art. From there comes my interest in the representation of objects, the use of spot and basic colours, the production oriented to its graphic reproduction, the use of mixed techniques and the principles of clarity and cleanliness, so present in my current production. At the end of this stage I start to work on thick, but delicate, coated paper of the base colour of the table on which I apply colours and textures by adding elements of colour or by the destruction of the base itself.
  • Artista03 26 Evolucion jpg Geometric abstraction and abstract expressionism: During the 2nd half of the 80's, my art evolves towards geometric abstraction in the line and to abstract expressionism in the color. Since then I base my painting in the two-dimensionality of the plane, the use of simple shapes, in harmonies with or without symmetries or with apparent symmetries, reinforcing the use of basic colours: yellow, red, blue, sometimes with white as a neutral background and black as a delimiter, which is the purest tradition of Heraldry.
  • Surrealism and symbolism: Both two previous stages converged at the beginning of the 90s with my surreal and symbolic background to produce, during the following two decades, hundreds of automatic painting works in ink and watercolor characterized by a series of personal characteristics. Undoubtedly this evolution marks my current heraldic production. For example, the patterns inside the mantling of my shields are made with the mind of automatic state or the overall assembly of the heraldic work where symbolism is a constant. At this stage I usually use Fabriano paper of 300 grams, usually 100% cotton, liquid ink pens to favor speed, Vallejo (brand) liquid watercolors and, sometimes, as a complement, paste watercolours Winsor & Newton.
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Separador heráldico

Sigue por: Illustration, translation and editing.

 

Dr. Antonio Salmerón y Cabañas,
,
Paseo de la Castellana 135, planta 7a,
28046 Madrid, España.